Believe It: These Hoosiers are maturing

BLOOMINGTON — Let it be pointed out that, on the night Tom Crean cemented his first-ever 3-0 start at Indiana, his team struggled.

The Hoosiers shot barely over 38 percent, Verdell Jones had more turnovers (7) than points (5) and Will Sheehey, of all people, starred. And for the briefest of moments, Indiana looked troubled, but it didn’t last.

This team is starting to build some constants, expected results upon which it can depend.

The defense continues to impress. Tuesday night, Indiana forced 23 turnovers and, while it also committed 17, won the points-off-turnovers battle 32-9. Mississippi Valley State shot just 34 percent overall and hit 7-of-21 threes, after shooting 10-of-17 in a near-upset against Georgia.

More than that, however — and as it has done in significant stretches this season — the Hoosiers’ defense covered when their offense was flagging. On a night where Christian Watford, Verdell Jones and Maurice Creek combined to shoot 9-of-31, their team rarely looked troubled, particularly in a dominant early second half.

Coming out of the break up just four, the Hoosiers limited their guests to just three points over the second half’s first 9 1/2 minutes, all while a 27-23 lead ballooned to 49-26.

“You’ve got to play through offensive lulls. You’ve got to play through bad offensive nights,” Crean said afterward. “To come out and play great team defense, to come out and get better defensively as the game goes on … that’s maturity.”

Watford also continues to be a rock. He still looks unsure of himself at times, growing into his new role operating along the wings and perimeter, but he hasn’t scored less than 17 points in any game — after a wildly impressive preseason — and is averaging eight rebounds per contest. Simply, he’s a kind of player Crean has never had at Indiana.

There are still flaws. The turnovers stand out, as does the lack of low-post production. Tom Pritchard, Bobby Capobianco and Derek Elston combined for 11 points Tuesday, a season high in three games for the trio.

And Elston left the floor with an apparent leg injury midway through the second half. He didn’t return, and Crean had no early word on his condition post-game.

But the post problems should be mitigated, at least somewhat, by the return of Guy-Marc Michel, whenever that may come. His size and apparent ability inside (based on early returns in scrimmages and whatnot) painted Michel as the most offensively gifted of IU’s big men, and his return ought to mark a serious gain for the Hoosiers.

(By the way, nothing new on the Michel-NCAA investigation front. All parties are radio silent, and that’s probably about the way it’s going to stay until some sort of conclusion is reached.

Said Capobianco, who himself had a strong Tuesday, scoring six and pulling down three boards: “We try to keep him focused and keep him going, and you know, that’s about as far as we can go right now, and that’s the most that we can do.”)

On Sunday, we talked about defensive identity, and how it might aid the Hoosiers this season. Now we’re seeing a greater overall identity, a defined semblance of a team that knows, at least vaguely, how to play to its strengths and what it wants/needs to do at any given moment.

It seems simple, but ought to be a luxury for anyone who’s watched this program since 2008. The Hoosiers are by no means a great team — far from it. But they are turning into a good team. And good teams generally win more than they lose.

“Almost to a man, every coach in there agreed that if we would have played this game a year ago, we would have lost this game. We would have been down 10 or 12 at half, and our maturity level wouldn’t have allowed us to win it,” Crean said.

“Our maturity level tonight had a lot to do with us winning.”

  • Anonymous

    “mandeville had the footwork of a hippo and 10 thumbs”

    This made me laugh out loud thanks for the mid-week pick me up!

  • JerryCT

    I have been drinking Ubu or Magic Hat #9 …….#9 you have drink fast because as it warms up it is like eating peach pie with a beer chaser

  • millzy32

    IU has a problem bringing the ball up against full court pressure. JR is good at bringing it up against full court pressure, Hulls is probably second best and VJIII simply can’t bring it up vs pressure. This has nothing to do with assist to turnover ratio. That’s where JR’s bad decisions in the passing game cause him trouble thus his lack of assists. He’s actually trying to get assists when he usually turns it over because his lack of shooting ability after penetration sometimes makes him pass up an easy shot and make a difficult pass.

  • MillaRed

    Glad I could help Double D

  • JerryCT

    Do not forget 2 huge defensive rebounds in traffic by JR in a row as they came back at us. Defense it of course a great skill he has but keeping the ball on the move has been entertaining as well

  • MillaRed

    I did but thought I was getting long-winded.

    Ask and you shall receive………..

    2009 opponent rpg: 34
    2010 opponent rpg: 26

    IU was at 37 rpg both years.

    So I suppose the real number to consider is the rebound differential which
    is 11 rpg. That is substantial sir.

    Although we did score last year, when we were on our horrid losing streak,
    the shooting was so bad our rpg rose due to the constant clanking. But now
    we’re spitting hairs eh?

  • millzy32

    Again,

    No problem with VJIII running the point from the top of the key but he can’t be the one bringing the ball up court vs pressure because he is horrible at it, just horrible. He is fine at dribble drive. Unfortunately we don’t have a complete PG yet who can both bring the ball up the court and then start up the offense at the top of the key. I wish we did but we don’t. The experiment to have VJIII do both of these duties has resulted in one of the highest turnover to assist ratios in college basketball.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong. Hulls 10 A/5 TO, Rivers 5 A/ 5 TO. Jones has been bad with TO’s so far, but he needs to keep playing the PG as well as the SG in Crean’s system. Actually Crean does not have a specific PG this year. Any “dribbler” can perform this function on any given play.

  • Anonymous

    I disagree, first Hulls, then Moore, then JR.

  • Anonymous

    I do not see a time in the next three years when Hulls is not the “glue guy” who makes all of the pieces fit together and run smoothly! I don’t care if he starts or not-except this season when there is no other option. He has to get 25 minutes plus for IU to be effective. He is #1 in 3-point shooting, #3 in scoring, #1 in A/TO, and #1 in A. Not bad for an athletically challenged kid!

  • stonaroni

    CZ will start at some point, no question, if it isn’t every game it will be a majority. AE steps in front of WS, and Roth next year. VO plays great D, but no one on IU’s team next year outside of Mo will be able to stroke a 3 over a 6’4″ defender like AE.

    Hulls made 6 3′s in one game, outside of that he is averaging 5ppg. We need him to continue at 10ppg, but no way he averages mor than Mo oe VJIII this season.

  • Yogi Kelin Harris

    First let me commend everyone involved in the VJ3 PG debate, for keeping it ‘basketball’ that is why people logon to ITH as much as I do. My main thing with VJ, are his the other guys look to him during the game and you cannot replace that or no one has stepped up to do so. I will overlook his turnovers for that reason as long as they don’t get into double digits. Yes he sucked last night, but he is human, and will probably go 27-6-2 the next game.

    Prediction….IU will beat KY this year.

  • stonaroni

    I think Rivers makes Hulls more effective as a shooter, and I feel the same way when VJIII runs the PG. When Hulls is at PG, he gets less opportunity to spot up on the wings or in the corner.

    VJIII has made too many TO, but I am willing to guess he will settle down over time.

    WS at the point may be worth a try, but CTC knows far more than we do.

  • millzy32

    Although you seem to like to disagree you didn’t mention VJII in that top 3 so we actually kind of agree.

  • millzy32

    Not sure if you are reading my entire comment before you write yours but ok. Ofcourse anyone can be the point in the dribble drive but someone needs to bring the ball up the court and that someone shouldn’t be VJIII. That’s all I’m saying. That is where most of his turnovers are plus he also looks uncomfortable doing it.

  • stonaroni

    And this was done against teams that probably wouldn’t compete for a D-II national championship. You are comparing apples to oranges. A #3 hitter might hit .330 on the season ,but hit .270 with RISP. Yet the other team has a #3 hitter that hits .299 on the season but hits .356 with RISP, I will take the clutch guy every day.

    Hulls will not be better than #4 in scoring this season, he may be #1 in 3′s, but Mo will have a chance to be better than Hulls there and the A/TO ratio of 2:1 isn’t that great either. I’d rather see a 5:2 or 3:1. Again, these numbers will decrease against better teams and players.

    Hulls will be replaced in the starting line ip in 2012-13 by Yogi. VJIII will be a SR next year, with WS, VO, AE, etc getting more minutes, Hulls will subside in importance on this team, especially as everyone improves. Hulls doesn’t have a major upside, what you see is what you get. VJIII, MO, CW, CZ, WS, VO, AE, etc all have skills that may be developed into a pro career….not Hulls.

  • millzy32

    No one in the Big Ten will be able to stop Sullinger. He was the number one big man coming in this year for a reason. We can only hope to contain him with the help of Guy.

    Ohio State looks scary good.

    Guy will be cleared its just the timing that hurts us. I really do think that the NCAA drags its feet especially with IU.

  • stonaroni

    I am guessing you are pleased with mediocre teams since Hulls is your go to guy. Do you not remember that this kid was not highly sought after while in HS. He is avg talent, great kid and leader, but undersized.

  • millzy32

    I had high hopes for VO and Sheehey coming into this season and they haven’t let me down. VO will make a significant impact all season long and Sheehey has the potential to do so as well. Love the energy that both of them play with and VO’s smile is fantastic. Looks like they’re having fun out there.

  • Anonymous

    #9 is delicious

  • millzy32

    Man I hope you are right about that prediction. Although KY will be young they have the best talent money can buy.

    Through this discussion what have we learned?

    Out of the Loop loves Jordan Hulls
    Stonaroni loves Austin Etherington
    Yogi Kelin Harris loves VJIII unconditionally
    I tend to focus too much on bringing the ball safely up the court and right or wrong may be blaming VJIII too much for his turnovers(one of my pet peeves)

    Go Hoosiers

    A win at Kentucky would get us some National Respect again. Even a strong performance in a loss would do us some good.

    PS Butler isn’t as good as everyone who anointed them as Kings of Indiana Basketball thought they were.

  • http://twitter.com/Greg_Michel Greg Michel

    Nope. Just happen to have the same last name.

  • Casey

    Not saying Hulls is a stud by any means, but PU and Duke were a few other schools recruiting him. Not too shabby.

  • millzy32

    If Greg is even close to as tall I say sign him up too. We need Bigs.

  • Anonymous

    + Zeller starts every game. Etherington will be a great 3-point shooter for IU!
    + You can’t pick which games to include and exclude and call it averages. You count them all.

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    Jerry you have good taste – good vt beer….try switchback if you have a chance – should get together and watch a game at some point..if there are any other ITHers nearby I can always get a growler….

  • Anonymous

    Hulls is 3-0 so far this season as a sophomore.. What was he in HS-5A, 29-0, State Champion? Adjust your glasses, I said “glue guy” NOT “go to guy”. A lot of mediocre teams have great talent-like UNC last season. some average talent teams win and play great-like Butler did last season. Duke was seriously recruiting (no offer yet) Jordy when he committed to IU. I want A WINNING TEAM. I actually was there when the “experts” said that the 1976 IU National Champions were lesser in talent than Marquette, before we whipped them! I will take actual wins every time!

  • Anonymous

    I read cover to cover. Anyone can bring the ball from the back-court to the front-court. It is not a difficult job! The only way to get comfortable is repeated practice. I think that it was Coach Wooden who stressed that you beat a press with the PASS not the DRIBBLE. You can not cite two examples of Jones turning the ball over in the back-court and giving up points off of the TO!

  • Anonymous

    I read cover to cover. Anyone can bring the ball from the back-court to the front-court. It is not a difficult job! The only way to get comfortable is repeated practice. I think that it was Coach Wooden who stressed that you beat a press with the PASS not the DRIBBLE. You can not cite two examples of Jones turning the ball over in the back-court and giving up points off of the TO!

  • Anonymous

    Lots of words but NO substance!

  • millzy32

    You only want two? Ok here goes. Once when he was trying to dribble up court and the defender got him off balance and he fell on his butt and turned it over fouling in the process. Another one was when he uncontrollably dribbled down the left side of the court and made an errant pass to Watford that went out of bounds.

    That was about the same time that MVSU was making their little comeback in the second half.

    I know you mention points off TO but neither of these led to fast breaks just turnovers and I believe they scored on both subsequent possessions.

  • Anonymous

    Right no points given up!

  • yimyames

    I would rather our injured players wear ugly sweats, rather than 3000 dollar suits like I’ve seen some other college players doing. Not to mention diamonds in both ears the size of their head.

  • Kevin

    Call me a lets-make-the-glass-half-full type guy. Call me overly optimistic. You’ll probably be correct in the end, but please allow me to speculate on the perfect scenario for Indiana University right now.

    83 points. For the opposing team, in football. That pretty sums up our football team. We might be at an all time low and there are no signs of improvement in the near future, especially not with the lovable loser Lynch at the helm. We pretty much have always sucked at football and people expect it to remain that way.

    Thats quite different from basketball. Our basketball program has always been at the top, literally. It’s a matter of fact that we are one of the best programs of all time. Anyone who tells you otherwise has no respect for the game. I can admit some programs I absolutely hate are still amongst the best off all time. Now, not all of our seasons have been 32-0, but we have always been competitive. Until the last 2 years. This type of losing has never happened at IU, and it happening is bad and sad to watch. I ultimately think the punishment will be viewed as too harsh, but I digress. This terrible “never” that occurred to the basketball team could be a positive “never” for the IU football team. Hear me out….

    All indications are that Tom Crean is on a tear that is going to continue for a while. His recruiting seems to have picked up steam and it doesn’t seem like it is going to stop anytime soon. Especially if he improves players at the rate he did with this team. We have depth and we play good defense. I don’t care if Crean isn’t Einstein with the X’s and O’s, if continues getting this type of passion on both sides of the ball from his players, and these upcoming recruits buy in, he will do extremely well. IU’s resurrection will be the hottest topic on the market. We are gonna freakin love Sportscenter (no need to DVR)

    This momentum could be great for the football team. Mr. Glass, you have done a tremendous job with everything right now. The progress you have made in football is beyond expectations. I hope that you take this opportunity to kindly let Bill go, and hit a homerun. Go for that big name coach in football that is like Crean. Get a tireless recruiter with a big enough name and good character. Let him ride the basketball wave and the new facilities to pulling in recruits. Get some early success and make a splash with this guy and the story becomes “The resurgence of the basketball program, AND the emergence of the football program. The tailgating here is fantastic. The Midwest is packed with Alumni that would come back and spend bucoo bucks if we are good. The campus will sell itself to future recruits if we have the coach and a competitive squad.

    Here’s to hoping.

  • IUMIKE1

    I believe I hear the wheels in Alex’s mind turning and whirling as I type.

  • Anonymous

    the addition of VO and WS made me realize we weren’t all that athletic before – those guys play at different speeds and bursts – i like

  • Adam B

    Don’t try arguing with him. He refuses to accept other points of view

  • Anonymous

    Have you guys read the “news” article posted on the twitter feed? Absolutely ridiculous. Our program and team are both maturing and on the right track. I wrote in to the author and figured I would share what I wrote because the article made me so annoyed. Articles like that are the last thing we need spread to the Hoosier nation. It also made me grateful to have ITH to allow fans like myself to say so up to date with Indiana Basketball, so thanks guys! I would love if others wrote in to this guy, who knows..maybe he will write another piece or at least be enlightened to the real state of IU basketball.
    “I found this article because it was listed on a well known Indiana basketball site. People were making fun of it. I can see why. When I read this I first thought it was a write in opinion piece written by an ignorant ex fan. It turns out only the last part was true. There are so many points I would like to make to you about this article, yet I doubt I will be able to list them all because it seems you are completely ignorant to the state of IU basketball. The program that Tom Crean has taken over was left in shreds, and since then he has gone on to do a rather amazing rebuilding job that has started slowly but surely. It appears you have no idea about the recruiting he has done. His top recruits are nearly all in state, and he just landed the top in state recruit to play with Austin in CODY ZELLER! Go watch the Butler Bulldogs if you want, I support them as well, but CLEARLY CODY ZELLER who’s top 3 schools were Butler, North Carolina and INDIANA (he chose Indiana if you didn’t know) felt that Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers were who he wanted to play for. This recruiting class is purely Hoosier and is number 17 in the nation! The class for the next year (2012) includes Indiana High school players Ron Patterson and Hanner Parea. This class will likely be top 5 in the nation. Creans top priorities in this class are Gary Harris, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrel, and Jeremy Howell. These are ALL INDIANA players. You clearly don’t know about the two Indiana players who have already given verbals to Indiana for the class of 2014. TREY LYLES IS NUMBER ONE IN THE NATION BY ESPN FOR 2014, and the other is the son of a Kentucky all American and is also top 25 in the nation! Crean has steadily improved each season and is off to his first 3-0 start. I do not write this to strictly defend Crean, but also because it made me sick so see such ignorant news. There is so much more information I could list about why your article is ignorant and wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s YOUR job to do the research. If you’re going to write about Indiana basketball get it right. I miss the good old days myself, but don’t write about things you clearly don’t know about. If anything our rebuilding Hoosiers need all the support they can get right now, and they’re doing a good job of it. The last thing they need though is news like this. IT’S INDIANA! GET IT RIGHT!”

  • DetroitHoosier

    I think the 2014 player you’re talking about is the son of an INDIANA ALL AMERICAN (NOT KY)….

  • Bleeding Crimson

    Keep in mind our exh game when we were down by 12 or so with around 3:00 minutes to play. We would have lost that game last year.

    I was there for that game and stayed around for awhile. I didn’t realize that the post-game show with “Fish and CTC” is played in the Hall after the game. I noticed that Don was at the announcer’s table and CTC was in the locker room (not presser room). I always assumed that they were face to face.

    During which, Don was finishing up the last question and Coach said that he would like to thank the crowd for pulling them through the last few minutes. He was aware that several folks left (about 1/4) but said that is was as loud as a full house. Plus he thought that they would not have pulled it out if the crowd wasn’t in it ’til the end. He really wanted to get his Thanks in for that. He really loves our student section.

    Question: Did they not play the fight song when we say “you suck” or did someone say something?

    BC

  • Bleeding Crimson

    LiveIUBBall,
    Didn’t see it, but love the response, right on. Could you link it?
    BC

  • BaseballBuc

    From what I’ve heard they didn’t play it, but I could be mistaken.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, and the Loyola loss was with Creek as well. And all 4 Big Ten wins were without him.

  • Anonymous

    And I hope you realize that I wasn’t responding to the purpose of the article, I was responding to the “by no means a great team…but they’re turning into a good team” line from the article. I’m not doubting maturation. Having some upperclassmen tends to help with that.

  • JerryCT

    IUbase – Good idea . Your place, my place or local pub ? I know of 1 fan in Port Henry who comes over and watches games w me sometimes ………..but………I always watch them twice………….we win more games that way and we get to drink more beer.

  • JerryCT

    How far in minutes are you from Schroon Lake or Ticonderoga ?

  • Anonymous

    That’s the weight room paying dividends already.

  • Anonymous

    No, he’s right—James Blackmon, Sr. played at Kentucky. He played high school ball in Indiana, but not college.

  • Gustin

    It’s better than the Genesee Cream Ale; absolutely the worst beer ever produced. Born and raised in upstate NY but stayed away from that Rochester area product. VBG!

  • http://www.vccm.net/ iubase

    jerry send me your email – mine is johannes.nunnink@vtmednet.org I live across lake champlain in charlotte near the ferry landing – got a big st bernard – plenty of beer as well – tx, chris

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